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Biblical Tax Systems and the Case for Progressive Taxation

45 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007  

Adam Chodorow

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Abstract

With the political rise of the religious right, American policymakers have increasingly looked to religion for guidance on important policy issues, including questions of distributive justice and how best to allocate tax burdens. While many claim that Judeo-Christian values require progressivity, the examples of taxation found in the sacred texts apparently refute this claim. This article examines four examples of taxation found in the Bible and Talmud to determine whether it is appropriate to infer from them a Judeo-Christian principle of tax fairness that should apply in a modern, secular tax system. I find that, not only do these examples use different methods for allocating tax burdens, making it impossible to identify one principle, but, more important, each example bears the stamp of its religious purpose or historical circumstances, making it inappropriate to rely on these examples as evidence of a divinely-sanctioned principle of tax justice.

Keywords: tax, taxation, taxes, religion, distributive justice, tax equity, bible, progressive, progressivity

JEL Classification: K34, P43

Suggested Citation

Chodorow, Adam, Biblical Tax Systems and the Case for Progressive Taxation. Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1013655

Adam Chodorow (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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